City Mission’s State Budget Priorities

FY’2019

MRVP (Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program) (7004-9024)

CHAPA and Mass Coalition’s request: $120 million

FY18 funding: $92.7 million

  • MRVP offers low-income families and extremely low-income households (including elders, and disabled individuals) rental subsidies. Two types of vouchers:
    • Mobile: Voucher value is a set amount, the participant pays the difference between the value of the voucher and the rent. Can live wherever.
    • Project-Based: Participant pays either 35% or 40% of their adjusted gross income. Assigned to a specific housing unit or development.
  • MRVP provides housing stability and security to more than 8,000 and families with children.
  • Eligibility: Household income cannot exceed 50% of AMI (Area Mean Income)

 

Current Proposals:

Sponsored by Rep. Paul Donato. Restores MRVP funding to $120 million, creating 1,200 new rental vouchers. This helps to preserve affordable housing and brings the program back to its 1990 funding level (not adjusted for inflation).

 

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Connolly. Increases funding to $120 million and makes some improvements. Makes MRVP more useable by increasing voucher rent caps to current fair market rent standards (prior, had not been updated since 2005). Allows MRVP to serve more ELI (extremely low-income) households by directing 75% of new vouchers to ELI families.

 

RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (7004-9316)

CHAPA and Mass Coalition’s recommendation: $18.5 million

FY18 funding: $15 million

 

  • RAFT is a homelessness prevention program which provides short-term financial assistance to low-income families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
  • Benefit lasts for one year, once that year is over you cannot reapply for one year.
  • Maximum payment is $4,000. Can go towards security deposits, first and last month, utilities, moving costs, etc.
  • Eligibility: Must be under 50% AMI.

 

Current proposal:

Sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Decker. Increases RAFT funding to $18.5 million and restores eligibility to allow the elderly, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied homeless youth to access the program. RAFT has been a cost-effective, impactful homelessness prevention resource for households across the state. At $18.5 million, would be able to prevent 5,685 families from entering homelessness.

 

Housing Court Expansion (0336-0003)

CHAPA recommendation: $2.6 million

FY18 funding: $1 million

 

  • Housing court currently exists in only certain counties. It hears cases involving eviction, code enforcement, and discrimination.
  • The TPP (Tenancy Preservation Program) is housed within Housing Court, and is a program to help people with disabilities and their families stay housed if they are facing eviction due to behavior related to their disability (including mental illness, intellectual disability, substance abuse and aging).
  • TPP specialists assess the reasons for the eviction, identify needed services, develop a treatment plan to maintain the tenancy
  • Small, but very successful; over 90% of participants in this program remained housed

 

Current proposal:

Sponsored by Rep. Chris Walsh. Provides the full $2.6 million to expand Housing Court to every county. Rep. Byron Rushing has an amendment on TPP (7004-3045) that expands funding to $1.3 million in order to support it in each county.

 

EA (Emergency Assistance Family Shelter and Services) (7004-0101)

Mass Coalition’s recommendation: $175.2 million and language change about staying in unsafe areas.

FY18 funding: $155.9 million

 

  • EA is the shelter system in Massachusetts for families and is required to provide shelter
    • Eligibility: Resident of MA, meet income standards (under 115% of the FPG (Federal Poverty Guidelines), have children under 21 or be pregnant
    • Reason for homelessness is: no-fault fire, flood, natural disaster, condemnation, fleeing domestic violence, no-fault eviction, kids exposed to substantial health and safety risk

 

Mass Coalition Recommendations:  Provide adequate funding for all eligible families. Include language and funding to provide shelter to families who are “At imminent risk of staying in a place not meant for human habitation” (under current EA regulations, families with 24 hours of staying in a place unfit for human habitation, such as in a car, ER, or transit station. Between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, 604 families were approved for EA after staying in a place unfit for human habitation.

 

TAFDC (Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children) Grant Payments (4403-2000)

FY18 funding: $ 162.8 million

  • It is cash benefits, also known as welfare.

Current proposal:

Mass Coalition Recommendations:  Recommended increased funding. Maintain 75-day advance notice language, to allow time for the Legislature to act to prevent eligibility restriction and benefit reductions. Would maintain the $300/child annual clothing allowance and doubling the asset limit to $5,000. Recommended 5 Outside Sections related to TAFDC to support working families and decrease cliff effects.
The amendment sponsored by Rep. Decker and Sen. DiDomenico Lift the Cap on Kids – also called the Family Cap – denies welfare benefits to children conceived while – or soon after – the family received benefits (currently 8,700 children denied benefits) because of the Cap on Kids.